The incredible Tsunami which was triggered by the massive Sumatra Earthquake is not the first for the area. In recent history, geological history that is, another huge Earthquake and Volcano caused an even larger Tsunami.
In 1883 the Krakatoa Volcano and Earthquake sent a 120-foot high Tsunami to Java and Sumatra. Over 36,000 people died from the wave and things were a lot less populated along the coast than they are today. It was very wise thinking to put in an early warning system as obviously this is a hot zone for such activity.
Indeed we should learn from history and realize that there are many such locations on our planet, especially along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” where many human civilizations are not so safe. This most recent Tsunami and the one in 1883 ought to be showing us our vulnerabilities and we need to be thinking here and adapting our societies and civilizations to deal with such potential crisis.
One interesting thing that they are doing in Japan is alerting citizens by cell-phone at the first sign of precursory Earthquake waves. The P-waves or “Primary” waves will allow people to know just prior to an Earthquake that a shake is imminent. Such high-tech tools all working in conjunction with reverse 911 calling on a 3G wireless network and Tsunami warnings in the oceans can save tens of thousands of lives.
Since we know history and have a pretty good idea of the Geological Record we need to leverage our technologies to be pro-active in saving lives before the events occur rather than simply responding after the fact with aid and comfort after so many have perished.